Neil Young: Archives Vol. 1 (1963–1972) Page 3


We begin with Disc 0 (Neil being Neil, he of course couldn't actually start the set with Disc 1), subtitled Early Years (1963-1965). It's made up almost entirely of unreleased mono recordings from Young's stint with the Squires in Winnipeg, as well as some of his earliest solo tracks. "Aurora," the B-side of the Squires' first 45, is the song that opens the whole shebang, and it's classic, twangy, instrumental garage rock that sounds cleaner than you might expect. The A-side, "The Sultan," follows, complete with gong flourishes. When you click on the arrow, you get to see the needle drop on the original 45 as it spins on a vintage cabinet stereo system, and you'll even be able to observe the floating turntable bounce. You'll also see the corners of Neil's handwritten scores - which have been placed on top of the cabinet's controls to the right of the 'table - furl and unfurl along with the music.

Stereophiles will enjoy noticing all the gear that pops up. Among the goodies: a General Electric AM/FM transistor radio, an RCA Victor record player, a Concord 550 reel-to-reel tape player, a Teac A-6100 2-track master recorder, and an Emerson Mustang turntable.

It's worth noting that Disc 0 also contains the earliest reading of "Sugar Mountain," a 1965 demo that shows the budding songwriter was already well on his way to painting vivid interpersonal stories. (Follow the song's evolution with a previously unreleased stereo master on Disc 2 and an acoustic live take on Disc 3.)

Before getting to the rest of the gold rush, I should mention the interactive Timeline that can be accessed under the More header on each disc's main menu. Besides enabling you to find hidden audio tracks by clicking on white pushpins, the Timeline is where the capabilities of BD-Live are expected to be put to good use. Whenever material not already on the Blu-ray set becomes available - photos, songs, video clips, reviews - a virtual sticky note from Neil himself will appear on the front of the filing cabinet, and a blue pushpin will appear in the appropriate Timeline zone. The first round of BD-Live additions has surfaced: another 1963 Squires recording and unseen photos of Buffalo Springfield.